Roommates Thelma and ZaSu are phone operators at the Empire Hotel. Thelma is frank and brassy; ZaSu, who misses the cows of Joplin, is laconic and droll. Thelma's boyfriend Harry manages the Strangler, a wrestler homesick for Kansas. Even though there's a big match that night, with all of Harry's money riding on it, the Strangler wants to leave for home now. When he stops at the operators' station to call home, he chats with ZaSu. They click and Harry realizes that Thelma's pal might be the key to keeping the Strangler in town for the bout. And the wrestling match? Should ZaSu throw her hat in the ring? Written by
A major theme in the film is Harry's homesickness. He tells Zasu that he is homesick for Kansas and she tells him that she is homesick for Missouri. In real life, Zasu Pitts was from Kansas. See more »
And you wanted Lawrence do you? Lawrence Kansas? Just a minute.
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A not too bad Hal Roach short in the Zasu Pitts/ Thelma Todd series. Maybe later shorts were cheap, unimaginative, derivative and sloppy but this one, in its very minor way, is on the money. For me it was stolen by a Billy Gilbert bit (uncredited) where he is the ring announcer who renders the introductory speeches totally unintelligible but they sound absolutely right. There was more to the performer than generally seen which was usually the thin band built around his famous slow burn sthick and the blustering anger bit and of course his famous sneeze. That he was so audibly adept was probably from an earlier career in vaudeville. No wonder Chaplin used him as his "Göring" in The Great Dictator.
The picture has a set up with the girls as hotel switchboard operators, with the homesick hick wrestler threatening to leave "the big match" and go home upstairs. The pay off is the big wrestling match and Zasu needing to wear her hat. Nothing you haven't seen before but handled well without any missing angles or flubbed timing.
Director is Marshall 'Mickey' Neilen who started in the business as Cecil B. DeMille's chauffeur, handsome as a movie star, and went on the be one of the most important directors in Hollywood, particularly as Mary Pickford's house director. He was laid low by The Drink and there is a heart wrenching description of him by Garson Kanin in his memoirs of directing him in a bit in The Great Man Votes (1939). No one had an earlier start in Hollywood. He was on top for a lot of years but Catch as Catch Can represents a stop closer to the bottom than the top. He exists like a specter in the background in 1937's A Star is Born.
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